I find it ironic that these sisters who claim to have gotten such a great education write this book on the basis of such scant anecdotal evidence -- their childhoods. Social science scholars, they are not and it shows. They failed to do even the minimal of research on real Asian parenting, which typically includes corporal punishment of the variety that Americans would probably deem to be child abuse. I'm not sure how they can generalize and say that their experience represents Asian parenting. As a Korean-American born in Korea and raised in the US, I can testify that this was not even close to my own experience. I would say that these women were truly blessed and privileged to have had parents who loved one another and sought to invest the time and energy to raise them with the level of attention they received. If you are a parent who can do this, then the advice is excellent and makes sense. But this book is not about Asian parenting. The book is an homage to their parents, who are probably in parental bliss right now, for having done a good job. One of the highest Confucian virtues is to exalt and pay respect towards one's parents. This book is an act of filial piety. I do not know of many Korean American families like this.
Many first and second generation Korean-Americans experience or have experienced mental health issues: chronically low self-esteem, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy (even when they have done reasonably well professionally) and depression as a result of their upbringing. Yes, some have PhDs and are in positions of financial stability, but they may also be on Prozac. The suicide rates at Columbia, Cornell and NYU are disproportionately high among Asian Americans. As many as 90% of Korean Americans experience an emotional crisis during college because they feel that they have not lived up to their parents' expectations, according to a senior counselor at a major NY state university. It's very tragic.
Aside from this book's shortcoming, I would say that it is a very pragmatic how-to manual on churning out little Confucian capitalists. I think they offer sound advice, but I think the authors take it for granted that the parents reading the book are not divorced, which is the case for many american families, and that all teachers are worthy of respect. I get the feeling that these authors led very sheltered lives, and have not interacted with a broad range of people to have come to their conclusions. If you are not politically left and have children who don't have learning disabilities, artistic temperaments or other contextual variables which may prevent you from applying these "secrets," then go ahead read this book.
As a Korean-American artist who was discouraged from pursuing a career in something I was talented in, I see many of the Korean conventional wisdom as not very wise. Many Korean parents will push their kids towards lucrative, high status professions. I'm so glad that I didn't listen to my parents. As an adult, I see that a lot of their admonishments had more to do with their insecurity as immigrants from what was then, a poor country, than their ability to assess what was in my own best interests. Their definitions of success had much more to do with status than actual contributions to society. If you really think that an ivy league education is all that it takes to be successful, look no further than the corporate executives who were indicted in the Enron scandal. An good, formal education does not a good person make.